A banner year for bears
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – More bears have been spotted in the city than at any time Glenwood Springs police chief Terry Wilson can remember – and he grew up here. “It’s the biggest bear year I’ve ever seen,” Wilson said. The department has received up to 25 calls in one day from concerned citizens who have spotted the bruins wandering around town. One fortunate fact is that – at least so far – no bears have required removal or killing. “There are just a lot of people calling who have seen bears,” he said.
Many times Wilson said the department receives multiple calls from the same neighborhood as the bears make their way down a street or and alley. “I think the big thing to tell people is that they’re out 24/7,” Wilson said. “They’re very, very actively seeking food.”Wilson said most people who have called reported seeing the bears in and around Veltus Park and in the Red Mountain neighborhood, but there have been sightings in other parts of the city. Colorado Division of Wildlife officer Sonia Marzec said there are a couple of reasons for the sharp increase in bear visits this year. “It’s an easy target,” she said. By “easy target,” Marzec said she was referring to trash and other items that are available for bears to eat.
There are also a lot of fruit trees in the city, she said, which are very attractive to the bears. Another factor in the high number of bears was a late frost that killed much of their natural food sources, such as berries and acorns. “It’s that time of year, they need 20,000 calories a day,” Marzec said. Although no bears have been euthanized in the Glenwood Springs area because of bad behavior, two bear cubs have been electrocuted by climbing power poles and coming into contact with a transformer or a wire, Marzec said. Both Marzec and Wilson have also noticed a significant increase in bear cub sightings this year. “That’s a problem,” Wilson said. “When baby bears are there, momma bear is probably around.”
Mother bears are much more likely to attack a person if that person comes between a sow and its cub. “That’s the one concern we have, that people not be harassing or inciting them,” Wilson said. Wilson said residents should refrain from leaving their trash outside overnight, take in bird feeders and cover their grills if they want to keep the bears at bay. And these precautions, he fears, are something people will need to get used to in the coming years. “You now have a whole new generation of bears that have been raised on that food source,” he said. So I don’t see it as anything that will go away any time soon.”Contact Greg Massé: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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